Whether they’re going on an imaginary grocery shopping trip or pretending to be a knight vanquishing a dragon, children get a ton of benefit out of creative play. When kids play make-believe, they build problem-solving, communication, and social-emotional skills. You can encourage that kind of dramatic play with a variety of materials. Below are our favorite teacher-approved items for dress-up and creative play. Enjoy!
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We love Melissa & Doug, and they have an awesome costume for every community helper. In addition to police officers, they also offer costumes for a fire chief, construction worker, veterinarian, and many more!
Most kids love to play doctor, and it’s a great way to help with anxiety around those actual visits. We love this bag with a stethoscope, blood pressure cuff, thermometer, otoscope, syringe, and bandage.
With a set of wings, a child can transform into a fairy, a butterfly, or a Pegasus. There are less expensive options, but we like this set for durability.
Play food is a must, but this charcuterie set with salami, brie, pull apart grapes, and crackers is just over the top charming. We also like Melissa & Doug and Hape for play food staples.
A child’s first role-play is often mom or dad. Let them learn to take care of a baby with this realistic, soft body baby doll from Miniland. Read more about why dolls are important in the early grades.
You could always go the Marvel or DC route (or heck, even PJ Masks), but we like this plain option for more open-ended play.
You can’t go wrong with this Little Tikes classic. This sturdy little cart even has a place for a favorite doll or stuffed animal.
Calling all knights and ladies! This play tent from Haba is perfect for medieval-inspired play.
What is it with kids and playing restaurant? Give them a nice place to prepare their culinary delights. Our pick is this gender-neutral set from Step2.
To infinity … and beyond! This costume is the real deal—check out the NASA patch and movable visor helmet!
Stuffed animals are a great way to learn all kinds of concepts. For super high-quality stuffies, we recommend Jellycat.
Kids love to play house. Nurture that cleaning habit with this broom and mop set. We also like the squirt and squeegee set, also from Melissa & Doug.
We’re suckers for wooden toys. This little beauty comes with a code scanner and card reader.
Tent? Check. Lantern? Check. But pretend camping is going to be a whole lot more fun with s’mores. And we love those wearable bear paws!
We’re big Baby Stella fans, so we’re recommending this umbrella stroller from Manhattan Toy that fits their soft 12″ and 15″ dolls (but works for any doll of the same size).
Another must-have. For an eco-friendly tea party, we like this set from Green Toys. It meets FDA food standards, so you can use real food and drink!
This darling kit contains a patient record pad, prescription pad, pet portrait stickers, die-cut vet tools, eight X-rays, sign, and diploma. Like it? Check out the restaurant set , also from eeBoo.
A set of wooden blocks like this one from Hape leaves a lot of room for the imagination. Build a house, a bridge, or even a castle! These large cardboard blocks are great for more life-size fun.
There’s something magical about snail mail when you’re a kid. Let them play letter writer or postal carrier with a mailbox they can personalize.
Did we miss your favorites for dress up and creative play? Share in the comments!